Canadian Foreign Minister Mélanie Joly visited the Middle East amid speculation that she is next in line to be Canada’s Prime Minister. Joly went to Israel to arrange the evacuation of Canadian citizens and to represent Justin Trudeau’s administration at a time of enormous tension and suffering in the region.
Observers say her handling of the Middle East conflict could determine her Canadian future and set her up to replace Mr. Trudeau. Canadian political commentator Ian Lee said leaders emerge at times of crisis and many people will watch how she reacts to the Israeli-Hamas war. “It’ll be a chance for her to demonstrate the gravitas and the seriousness and understanding of the sensitivity in this horrible time,” he said.
Six Canadians died in the October 7 terror attack against civilians in Israel, but Joly refuses to say if any were taken hostage. Two Canadian Armed Forces Airbus CC-150 Polaris jets removed around 1000 Canadian citizens from Tel Aviv, but opposition parties in Ottawa were critical of the slow response.
Deputy Conservative Leader Melissa Lantsman said, “The government has not learned the lesson of its past failure to evacuate Canadians from Afghanistan.” Canada’s rescue mission in Afghanistan in 2021 was mired in chaos and confusion, ultimately resulting in it closing its embassy. As the Taliban advanced, Canada shut its doors and fled, leaving allies behind. Retired corporal Dave Morrow said that the panic among Afghan interpreters was “indescribable.”
Meanwhile, an October poll revealed that most Canadians want Justin Trudeau’s leadership to end – including almost half of his past voters. The next federal election is scheduled for 2025, but Trudeau may struggle to stay on top if trends continue. The poll found that 57% want a fresh face at the helm, including two out of five of the Prime Minister’s Liberal Party voters. Political researcher Jon Roe said Trudeau’s popularity has been on a downward trajectory, and people feel he is not helping enough with their cost of living concerns.